Breckland stone curlew spotted in Spain

A stone curlew spotted in Spain earlier this year has been identified as a Breckland bird.

It is the first time the colour-ring combination, a series of tags used to identify the birds, of a live stone-curlew has been read in the field while wintering abroad.

Now known as Blas, after the patron of the area in northern Spain where he set up home, the bird was discovered by a local man who had recorded the flock’s habits over the past six years.

He later contacted the British Trust for Ornithology, in Thetford, and was told the bird was ringed as a chick at RAF Lakenheath by the RSPB’s Stone Curlew Recovery Project Team in 2009.

Manuel Fern�ndez Pajuelo, who recorded Blas in a flock of 41 other stone curlews, said: “I saw the first stone-curlews wintering here in Asturias, Spain, in 2007 and I have recorded them here for the last six years.

“This is the first colour-ringed stone-curlew I have observed and it was exciting to find out from the RSPB that Blas had travelled here all the way from the Brecks, England.”

Only a small number of birds ringed by the team have ever been reported abroad. Although some were found in France, Spain and north Africa in the past, these were all dead.

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The project team, which works with farmers to locate nest sites so they can be avoided while farm operations take place, will start monitoring nest sites in Breckland again this month and have pledged to keep a close look out for Blas.

Breckland stone curlew Recovery Project officer, Tim Cowan, said: “We have been working with farmers and other landowners to protect stone-curlew chicks for 27 years. It is always exciting to hear about one of the chicks we have ringed here in the Brecks and Blas is no exception.

“Through this project, we protect around 25pc of the Breckland stone-curlew population from accidental damage caused by farming operations, or similar, each year.

“The team will certainly be keeping their eye out for Blas and if we find him, we will report back with any news.”